There I am in the paper #73

Here you go another of my It’s My Life, columns in the Irish Examiner. It’s been a few weeks but yer man is featured once more. Where would I find my content without him?

Isn’t it strange how we get used to the quirks of our home, the lock that sticks or the window that doesn’t open. Or maybe that’s just me?

Of course, yer man and myself have the best of intentions to fix them, but time passes and the day comes when we don’t even notice them anymore. We develop a knack to opening that lock and aren’t there plenty other windows to open instead of the broken one?

However, sometimes a moment comes when we can no longer ignore the issue. So it was with the decking this Summer.

Twelve years ago we built an extension, outside of which we put down the in-thing at the time… decking. When I saw it laid I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Surely this meant we’d come up a notch in the world and almost immediately I began to develop notions! We nearly had to re-mortgage, such was my addiction to filling it with plants, not to mention the furniture I knew would finish it off.

Needless to say yer man developed no such notions.

However, in our ignorance we’d no idea how much work there was to maintaining our glorious decking. Ignoring it for the first few years, we watched as it began to look less than glorious. Finally, following the advice of Mr Skilled Carpenter next door, yer man went to work with wood preserver one weekend while I was away. When I returned he was pleased as punch.

“Well, what do you think?”

I bit my tongue as I wanted to say, “Why did you paint our decking mustard?” But mindful I’d been away and of no assistance whatsoever, I said, “It’s lovely,” but in a tone which might have inferred, “I hate it.” We never spoke of it again but I suspect he agreed as the following year it returned to its ‘natural,’ dark oak.

Despite our decking being a thing of beauty in Summer, it was lethal in winter. While continuing to look like decking, come early November, it transformed into a world class ice rink.

It didn’t even need ice, just a week or so of cold, wet weather.

Of course, yer man was in denial at the danger it posed. He’d applied the appropriate protection. To criticise the decking was to criticise him.

When some poor misfortune drew the short straw and had to take the rubbish out to the bin, I’d wave them off from the patio door,

“Be careful out there.”

Cautiously they’d cross it taking baby steps, looking not unlike I did when trying to ice-skate for the first time. Unfortunately, sometimes someone would rush out, forgetting its slippery surface, only to slide the length of the decking with a high-pitched squeal. Highly entertaining, as long as it wasn’t you.

This Summer, after last years savage winter, our decking was literally cracking up, every board creaking or broken.

“Here’s your barbecued burgers gang,” I’d shout from the edge of the patio.

“Can you bring them over Mum, it’s a bit dangerous for two to stand on that board.”

Yer man muttered about our exaggerating, deaf to the crunching and cracking under his foot. Until one day our daughter stepped out the back door and quite literally disappeared. She wasn’t hurt, but the rest of us nearly did some serious damage laughing.

Later that evening she couldn’t wait to show yer man what had happened.

“Look,” she said, pointing to the large hole in the decking, “I came out the door and disappeared down there.”

“Really?” said yer man, “I’d better fix that.” I heaved a sigh of relief. Action at last.

“What about the other breaking pieces?” I said.

“Yerra, they’ll be grand. Just try not to walk on them.”


14 thoughts on “There I am in the paper #73

  1. Our Seattle house was a “contemporary” built into the side of a mountain top on five levels, each of which had decks running the whole length. Did we spend every glorious evening sitting out and watching the sunset over the mountains and water? In fact, we did not. . In fact, just after we bought the house, we realised our decks were death traps, waiting to send the unwary plunging down the mountainside to their (undoubtedly litigious) injury and/or death. Replacing the decks would, we discovered. cost more than our mortgage. We eventually put in new decks, of course—when we had to sell the house.

    1. Haha. The beauty of decks. Since ours was so bad I’m a little obsessed looking at other’s when I visit their houses. Not always as lovely as they look!
      That sounds like some house you used to live in.

      1. It was a great house. Seattle is surrounded by mountains, so getting a house on a mountain with views wasn’t too hard. What made it great was that it was right across the street from my wonderful in-laws. That’s what I miss the most!

  2. My sympathies, Tric. When my son bought his bungalow, it was perfect for his disabilities…but the garden, on various levels, was not. We decked the lot… and it is a big garden. Muggins, sorry, Mum does the maintenance, but after last winter, it stood in serious need of a carpenter. Nick scraped the money together and paid for the job to be done. The idiots left it in a worse state than when they started… so now i tiptoe carefully across dodgy bits to deal with the triffids and my son can use only half the garden safely. I’m just dreading the day when it gets to the stage where I have to get the saw and hammer out…
    I’m getting too old for this super-Mum business 😉

    1. I feel your pain, both of your pain. Despite the fact we slag yer man here, I’d not have a clue what to do with it myself. Fair play to you for even trying to DIYing it.

  3. i love the walk outdoors and a quick drop into the hole experience. and the family busting a gut laughing. and of course, you can just adjust to life with the other potential death traps/boards. )

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